BELLEVILLE — For Southwestern Illinois College sophomore point guard Janelle Cannon, it's all about being a winner.
And so when University of Louisville head coach Jeff Walz offered Cannon a scholarship to play for his program, Cannon jumped on it.
The Blue Storm's first team All-American and ranked as the top junior college point guard in the nation, Cannon signed her national letter of intent last week and will be a member of the Cardinals, beginning in the 2013-14 season.
"I like the facilities, I liked the coaches and, at Louisville, I will have the opportunity to compete for a national championship as well as a Big East Conference title,'' Cannon said. "They're ranked eighth in the country and I really like how the city of Louisville supports them. I think that coach Walz is going to help me become a better player than what I am now.
"Like I said, I think we're going to have a great chance to contend and win games. That's what I was looking for. I wanted to go to a program which is successful and trying to win a championship.''
A native of Evanston, Ill., who played her prep basketball at Wheeling High School, the 5-foot-9 Cannon also considered Murray State and Alabama before choosing Louisville.
After being a two-time all-state guard at Wheeling, Cannon averaged 16 points, nine rebounds and nine assists a year ago for the Blue Storm. She helped SWIC place ninth in the NJCAA Division I National Tournament.
Cannon is currently averaging 18 points this season for the Blue Storm, which was 1-1 heading into its game at Mineral Area College on Tuesday.
Cannon is also the second local player to sign with Louisville. Edwardsville High School senior Emmonnie Henderson also signed with the Cardinals last week.
So, the local athletes will be teammates.
Walz said Cannon is a gifted player who will have the opportunity to play immediately.
"Janelle is an explosive scorer who can play several positions,'' Walz said. "She is one of the best junior college guards and has an innate ability to distribute the basketball while still remaining a potent scoring threat.
"She is byproduct of a very successful junior college program and will no doubt bring that winning mentality to Louisville. With her experience, adept craftiness and ability to knock down jumpers, I look for Janelle to have an outstanding career here."
Cannon signing with Louisville is also monumental for the SWIC program. Not since All-American Jaynetta Sanders played at SWIC (1997-99) has a player drawn so much national attention.
Sanders went on to star at Texas A&M University and later went on to play professional basketball in Europe for several years.
"I'm very proud of and happy for Janelle. She's worked very hard for this and she'll have the chance to live out her dream,'' SWIC coach Mike Juenger said. "Janelle is just to talented that at times it appears it comes easily for her at this (junior college) level.
"Playing at Louisville is a different level because you're going up against the UConn's, Duke and Notre Dame."
Cannon has played both the off-guard and point guard spots at SWIC. She was recruited Walz as a point guard.
"I think I'll have a chance to play the point and the off guard. But I think coach (Walz) is looking for me to play point guard.'' Cannon said "It doesn't really matter to me. I just want to play.
"Basically, the point guard spot is open for next year. If I go in there and work hard enough, I'll have a chance to start. Coach told me that the opportunity for me to go in and play right away will be there."
Cannon is majoring in sports administration.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or email@example.com